The Intelligent Voters Guide to the Iowa Caucus

2016 Republican Clown Car Parade - 17 Candidates On The Road To Iowa

First of all, it’s Ioway, not Iowa, as the natives and pandering out-of-state politicians call it. Whatever it’s called, should you be as excited as the media appear to be?

I’m not. Come to think of it, I wasn’t excited about it in 2012, 2008, 2004, or 1824, whenever the Caucus began.

Whoever wins, it’s not going to matter. Ask Pastor Huckabee, who even with the Good Lord on his side in 2008 only got a job at Fox News out of it. That’s not fair: it also helped him sell a lot of cancer cure and diabetes nostrums, and earn him the coveted encomium TV snake oil salesman of the year.

God didn’t help Rick Santorum in 2012 either, even though he was the only candidate with a Latin name, his other qualification being the wearing of the sweater vest.

Basically, the format of the event, which is not even a primary, is comparable to the number of people who showed up at a Politburo meeting in the old days of limited democracy in the USSR. Like Leninist democracy, the Iowa Caucus is based on the principle of democratic centralism, in which smaller groups get together to elect bigger groups. It’s a cross between voting in an actual primary and the great American tradition of selecting candidates in smoked-filled back rooms before the start of a brokered convention.

Actually, the Ioway Caucus is less democratic than the Politburo election since it disenfranchises so many eligible voters: People who work on Tuesday nights; folks who can’t afford a baby-sitter; those away fighting our country’s battles on foreign shores; citizens out-of- town on business, or afraid of the dark.

Whatever the reason, only 80,000 or so people will bother to register their choice Feb. 1.

And their second and third choices, if their favorites lose in the first round of voting.

It always seemed to me that the Caucus is an institution born out of long Ioway winters. You have a lot of folks in isolated areas spending months cooped up in their dwellings with nothing to do but stare out of frosted windows at fields covered with snow and scarecrows. They need a reason to get out of the house before, or after, they go stir crazy.

All of this, of course, was before the excitement of binge viewing, reading Facebook posts, or going south for the winter with the money the government they are against has given them for not planting soybeans or sorghum.

Over the years, the parlor Grant Woods got together and played the political version of spin the whiskey bottle. Little did they dream the media would go so nutty over their little game the way they are this election cycle.

The whole thing is an exercise in futility, and the chance to see themselves on TV listening to candidates who show up for a donut and a cup of Joe in every nook and cranny of the state, from Waterloo to Oskaloosa. How they vote doesn’t have any lasting impact. I shouldn’t say that. It usually eliminates three or four of the names on the bottom of the list, who go back to their day jobs.

Another more positive way to look at the Iowa Caucus is it’s a chance to promise to maintain price supports on crops, the handouts the rest of us will have to pay for the next four years. Has a single candidate advocated getting rid of farm subsidies this election? We’d save about $40 billion or $50 billion a year, enough to start repairing urban decay.

But there I go again, bringing up issues. The Caucus is about personalities, who can eat more corndogs, or shake hands better, or says he loves ethanol more than anything, except God.

Having said all of this, I hope I haven’t discouraged anybody from casting a virtual fantasy straw or two on the night of Feb. 1. For thinking folks, it’s still a lot better than going bowling, playing speed scrabble or chess, a game just declared the instrument of the Devil by the leading cleric of Saudi Arabia. What a guy!

As you may have heard, the two leading candidates are now Trump and Cruz.

Natural Born American Trump’s campaign got a boost the other night when the wicked witch of the west, semi-governor Sarah Palin endorsed the evil New Yorker. She flew into the campaign on her broom from a Trump Towers balcony, where she can see New Jersey on a clear day. I felt sorry for Trump as he stood next to his game- changing supporter who in that voice which sounds like a nail scratching the surface of a blackboard enhanced the traditional few remarks into a 31-minute state of the union address. Dressed in a formal coat, Trump looked like a lox in the Zabar’s appetizer counter. Her screeching voice may have scared the scarecrows, which may now caucus for Cruz.

Will Unnatural Born Cruz be forced to launch his own secret weapon, the other leading Republican dingbat, Michelle Bachmann?

Trump or Cruz?

As Lindsay Graham, my favorite candidate in the Gang of 17 who started the race four years ago, after the reading of the last line of the Obama Inaugural Address, put it:

“It’s like being shot or poisoned. It doesn’t really matter.”

I will let you know where I stand, or sit, on this crucial election as soon as I finish reading the pundits.



Marvin Kitman
Jan. 22, 2016

Marvin Kitman is the author of “The Making of the Preƒident 1789”, HarperCollins, and in paperback, Grove Press, available at Amazon and quality book-sellers.